Week 3: The Colonial Experience

Casta Paintings are something I’ve never heard of/seen before but I can say I’m very intrigued. In a social justice class in high school, we touched upon caste systems around the world. I noticed it was typically based on religion, social groups, jobs but rarely race. We went into detail about the racial system in Brazil. I am familiar with the terms used in the paintings but not the concept.

There were three individuals, a woman, man and child in each painting alongside numbers labelling them with a description of their race. A picture really depicts a larger idea. With the different outfits, objects and background scenery, a viewer can get an overall gist of what they’re really looking at. The various careers they seemed to have were a shoemaker, musician, seller and what looks like a don/general.

A common trend seems to be the higher up and more “European blood” relationships were showcased as richer based on their clothing and the objects around the paintings. They obviously were employed in more respectable jobs. When you went down the board looking at relationships with Native and African descents, their clothing was not as appealing and you can see they do more manual/labour work. If a European man was with a women of another background, he still seems well off but a Spanish women in a similar situation was lower on the canvas.

To me, I find this discriminatory and dividing between the races. As mentioned in the lecture, this was the root of an identity crisis. The whole idea of painting all possible bloodlines is excessive and unnecessary. My mind instantly gravitated towards racial whitening or “blanqueamineto” where following generations were trying to get “rid” of any black or indigenous heritage. The photo I attached below was shown in my class a lot. I believe the context behind it was a grandmother who had a mixed child feeling joyful that her daughter married a European man and had a child who basically looks white. I know that specific tradition was popular in areas after colonialism especially in the early 1900’s.

OP-ED: Miscegenation in Brazil as a state policy to whiten its population | AFROPUNK

History tends to repeat itself in multiple ways. Looking closer at the Casta Paintings, I can see that being of/closer to European descent was more beneficial and desired. Issues seen today with the beauty standard, colorism and even racism can stem from something like this. I know a lot of other countries who were colonized have a common ground. I’ve heard about it during ethnic cleansings as well.

Discussion Question:

How were Casta Paintings harmful for the following generations post colonialism? What are some long or short term effects?


Week One: Student Videos

Simran Dhaliwal

The first video I chose to watch was “The War on Drugs” by Dianne Keyes and Michelle Nzioki. . The students incorporated many visuals including photos of individuals, places and objects mentioned. It was helpful for the  viewer. On top of this, the voice-over changed tone and emotions a lot. The information was interesting but kind of brief. I felt like it could’ve been explained more thoroughly. It was a good pace and not stretched out longer then it should be.I admired how the students found someone who grew up in Colombia and were able to interview them. That was a special add on that allowed authenticity and a first hand account.

The second video I chose to watch was “The Legacy of US Interventionism in Latin America.” The students placed each case in chronological order allowing me to see how much of an impact America has had throughout history. The voice over was slower than the first video.Although I never missed out on anything, it was hard to pay attention. The video itself was informative and very specific. I liked how the creators chimed in with their own opinions from time to time. Some particular quotes that stuck out were ” North America thrives because Latin America doesn’t ” and “America treated Latin countries as institutions that would further their economic interests.” This clip left me asking questions and drove me to do some research on my own.

The third video I chose to watch was “Independence Narratives, Past and Present.” This video was definitely entertaining and made me laugh. I was more focused on the background, the props and  flags/lands on their faces rather than the information. I had to rewatch it to get a feel of what the students were talking about. It was simple to follow but lacked a lot of context that explained the topic in depth. It just scratched along the surface.I loved the microphone spoons though!!

The fourth video I watched was “The Terror”. Honestly, I would say this was my favourite video. The students used video clips instead of pictures. You feel a greater connection and understanding. The beginning reeled the viewer in and really caught my attention. The students read out the narration of someone who witnessed the massacre. The account was chilling and very gory. I was invested in this video and wished there was more. It was interactive. There was a story-telling vibe. Overall, I would say this was the most enjoyable content-wise.

After completing this blog post and watching some videos, I have an idea of what to do for my final project.